PAD 2021 – Day 8

Today my poem took inspiration from the the League of Canadian Poets prompt to write a poem about what happens when you sleep, as well as today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt modeled on the 1915 book Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. It asked for a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood. The monologue doesn’t have to be a recounting of the person’s whole life, but could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy, with any degree of drama thrown in. I chose to write from the perspective of a cousin who contracted encephalitis from a mosquito, and died several years later, long before I was born.

Maryse Reiner

To call is it sleeping sickness implies a certain serenity
but I can tell you, from this side of my closed eyes,
it was never true. Before all that I was praised for my 
black curls and round blue eyes, like a doll they’d say,
never getting old enough to be noted for my keen 
math skills or the way I could run to the treehouse
faster than my brothers and climb the ladder like
a squirrel. I loved the colour yellow and the way
my mother’s carrot cake tasted ¬ best on my birthday.
I never had time for a real crush, or to really dream
about what I’d do when I finished school, but I do 
know it would have been more than house and babies.
I do know I would have danced, even through the 
reluctance and bone-ache of old age. I do know I 
would have gone to the lake every summer,
stayed up for every sunset, shut my eyes to memorize the
way the crimson and pink, the streaks of orange
reflected on the water. Held the shades and shapes like a favourite
painting, in my heart and behind my eyes, so I’d always have 
some place to go to in the dark.
Photo by Nicole Avagliano on Pexels.com

NaPoWriMo – Day 9

Today I tried to combine the NaPoWriMo.net  prompt to write a poem in which something big and something small come together, with the Poetic Asides prompt calling for a “Battle __________ ” poem. Took a conversation with my Dad as inspiration, and used the writing to help tame my own burgeoning worry.

Battle the Weather

 

Morning phone call.

You start with the temperature,

-5 still, but better than yesterday. Supposed to

be in the pluses again by the weekend.

This damn province.

 

Then you give me the real headline,

preface of Don’t worry, but…

 

It could be nothing. Seeing the doctor tomorrow.

Probably lots of tests. We’ll know when we know.

 

I parrot it back, you don’t worry either.

Child counseling parent, or maybe

both of us

just saying what’s said. Rote words.

Learned eventually.

 

But I know

how even a small worries

bloat so big

fueled by the constant hot puff of

whatifwhatifwhatifwhatifwhatifwhatif

 

Mine’s already growing. I feel it,

hollow balloon in the chest, rising.

Little brain ember, taking hold,

starting a fire that will keep me burning

all night long, working to throw

drops of reason

on a fear inferno.

 

But hope builds too, or can.

In quiet places. The same spot

softened each day with silence.

Faith flourished, not with expected words

like Don’t worry, but with something true

and lived.

Remember six years ago, Dad,

leaving the hospital? December.

-31 with the wind chill.

You told me the sky

looked too blue to be that cold.

Damn this province! If the cancer didn’t kill me

this weather surely will.

But I saw you take a breath, deep,

zing of cold filling your lungs.

You shut your eyes and smiled.